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The secret to running an award winning B&B | pink miniature house sitting on a desk

The secret to running an award winning B&B

running a bed and breakfast success stories May 31, 2020

The secret to running an award winning B&B

It’s been a pretty amazing week for some of our B&B Academy past course attendees, with no less than 3 best B&B awards. These winners share the secret to running an award winning B&B.

Alyson and Simon of The Old Stables B&B near Shepton Mallet in Somerset won Gold Award for B&B of the Year with the Bristol, Bath & Somerset Tourism Awards

Claire and Mike of Brambles B&B near Dover in Kent won the Small Accommodation Provider of the Year in the Visit Kent Tourism Awards

And Daisy of Mount Pleasant Farm B&B , Chapel Allerton in Somerset won B&B of the year in the i newspaper Staycation Awards.

Many many congratulations to all of them. They have all worked so very hard to achieve this. The standard of accommodation entering all of these awards is very strong, so to have been declared winners in their category is a reflection of their hard work and passion for each of their businesses.

What’s the secret to running an award winning B&B?

Each of these B&Bs is unique and they’re all different from each other. So what’s the secret to running an award winning B&B? I have a pretty good idea of what it takes, but I thought I’d contact them all, offer my congratulations and ask them why they thought they’d won.

Claire of Brambles B&B

Stone B&B Building with gravel drive - the Brambles B&B

“[the judges ] said something like the attention to detail was second to none and the lemon cake was delicious and a nice touch.

All the little extras hand written notes and clean modern bathroom, robes etc.all stuff we do and have picked up from you and your Facebook page really.

The breakfast has lots of varied choice and cooked fresh to order and all the menu is gluten free even the pancakes and waffles.

We are very food orientated, as we both trained as chefs many years ago, and being rural and having walkers we started to do evening meals. We didn’t want to do this but the local pub was closed most of the time and our walkers had nothing to eat. We found we could deliver a simple well cooked meal and get 200% profit from it which paid for our holiday to the far east this year.

We also have lots of Americans who arrive without a clue of anything, so we arrange tours and taxis and transfers for them and now we are used with American and Australian travel agent who plan bespoke tours

B&B Bedroo with large bed with blue cover and low lighting

 for clients.

We have found you have to evolve constantly and we morph into something different in the winter months getting lots of English weekenders where in the summer we are 80% European guests.

We first set out thinking we would have lots of guests from Canterbury but we have found a completely different client to that so we just went with it and played with different ideas.”

Claire  came on my B&B course in March 2016 and says “We always recommend your course and, without your valuable info, we would have struggled”

Daisy of Mount Pleasant Farm B&B

“Oh crumbs… 

I have found that people seem to like the individual touches and the mix of old and new. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but most of my guests seem fairly arty and like the bold colour choices and trinkets dotted about the house.

I was worried as I am a bit of a hoarder and thought I would over clutter the b&b but have managed to fill it with things without overcrowding it. Guests always mention how lovely it is that everywhere they look there is something interesting to look at. 

The judges thought it felt like a real home from home, welcoming and informal like going to your favourite aunts house as a child.. which is just how I want me guests to feel! 

Final note from me I think posting b&b and private life on social media is a great mix. Prospective guests seem to like to know the person behind the brand and it makes it more relaxed when you meet them too because they’ve already seen your face!”

Daisy came on the course in September 2015 and said in a facebook comment “Thank you Karen!! Couldn’t have opened the B&B without your invaluable course”

Alyson of The Stables B&B

A selfie 2 smiling B&B owners, Alyson and Simon, wearing blue aprons

“ So we won the Gold Award for B&B of the Year with the Bristol, Bath & Somerset Tourism Awards.  This is the second time we have won Gold – the first time in 2017. The Judges this year said “A delightful property and great guest experience”.   

We were up against some tough competition from B&B’s who have been in business longer than we have but I think what gives us the edge is that we offer a true home away from home experience.  

Simon and I are both the face of the B&B and we greet incoming and departing guests together.  We both cook and serve at breakfast and each enjoy chatting and getting to know our guests. 

We are really conscious of the ‘little touches” that we offer and we’ve done this because it’s what we like when we travel.  The home baked biscuits in the rooms, books and games available, the ‘forgotten items’ box, relaxation colouring books and pencils, comp toiletries, fresh milk, fridges etc. etc. We tell all our guests that our home is their home for their stay and they really like the fact that we live here too.  

This year we have had more repeat guests than ever and that’s great.  Being dog friendly is a huge bonus too – we’ve welcomed more dogs this year than ever! 

We really enterStone building with gravel courtyard set against blue sky. A golden retriever dog sits in the doorwayed so that we could receive feedback on how we’re doing – winning twice is the icing on the cake! It’s easy to become complacent so this is our way of carrying out ‘quality control’   We would encourage any B&B’s to go for it with awards – the process may seem lengthy in supplying all the info required, etc.  but it’s worth it!”

Alyson and Simon attended the course in October 2014 and sent me a testimonial a couple of years ago

“A real eye-opener! 

Taking Karen’s B&B Academy course was by far the single most important thing that we did when we embarked on our B&B journey.  On our first morning of the course Karen told us that by the end of the weekend we would know if B&B life was for us or not – and she was right!  We literally covered everything from bacon to loo roll. We had read books and articles about B&B ownership but nothing came close to giving us the real insight more than this course did.  Karen covered things that we didn’t even know about – online travel agencies, channel managers, how to spend your marketing money effectively, the Pink Book to name but a few.  

Karen doesn’t leave anything out and she definitely doesn’t sugar coat B&B ownership either.  It’s true – if you don’t like cleaning and cooking, then it’s not for you! We left the course knowing that B&B life was for us  and over the next year and a half poured over the course notes we were given, did our research and finally found our dream property in 2015.  We opened The Old Stables in April, 2016. Karen’s expertise, support and enthusiasm really crystalised our decision to open our B&B. If you are considering embarking on your own B&B we cannot recommend the B&B Academy course enough.  Thank you Karen – you helped us to make our dream come true!”

Will coming on the course guarantee you an award winning B&B?

Well no!  A B&B is really only as good as the people who run it. Each of these B&Bs is very different in style and the  type of customers that visit. But, in my opinion, they share some common characteristics.

They make an effort to really understand who their customers are and what they want for a B&B. And they have a desire to provide the best customer service possible and pay very close attention to detail.

Not everyone wants to enter B&B awards and that’s OK too. There are some excellent B&B’s run by very hard working B&B owners, who decide against entering awards.

So coming on the course won’t guarantee you a successful B&B, but it will help you decide if running a B&B is for you. And, if you decide to run a B&B, it will give you a good foundation in how to run a B&B.

Find out more about the course and book online here.

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